Mahavir Jayanti, the most important religious event for Jains, is being celebrated all over the country today with processions and preachings of Mahavir being re-enacted. The occasion marks the birth of Mahavira, 24th and the last Tirthankara (Teaching God). On the Gregorian (English) calendar, the holiday occurs either in March or April every year and this time it falls on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
Usually, the idol of Mahavira is carried out on a chariot, in a procession called rath yatra and the day is filled with bhajans and recitals. Local statues of Mahavira are given a ceremonial bath called the abhisheka before the rath yatra.
Jains on this day engage in some charitable act and devotees visit temples dedicated to Mahavira to meditate and offer prayers. Lectures by monks and nuns are held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jainism. Donations for charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or to feed poor people are collected today.
President Pranab Mukherjee in his message on the eve of Mahavir Jayanti on Tuesday, said: “On the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti, I extend greetings and good wishes to all my fellow citizens in India and abroad. Let us on this day resolve to spread Bhagwan Mahavira’s teachings of ahimsa, compassion, love and right conduct far and wide, within our country and across the world. May this festival inspire all of us to adopt non-violence in our thought and life.”